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Inmates are allowed to and still want to vote despite being in jail, sheriff says

Nueces County Sheriff J.C. Hooper said that out of 1,200 inmates, only 350 are eligible to vote. That's because in Texas felons are not allowed to vote.

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Early voting began Monday. Most people will vote in person, since mail-in ballots are only limited to residents with special circumstances, including those in our jails. 

Nueces County Sheriff J.C. Hooper said that despite being behind bars, some inmates are still allowed to vote.

"When you get locked up in a county jail you don't lose all your rights, and you don't lose the right to vote," he said. 

Hooper said inmates are fully aware that there is a midterm election coming up. 

"Many of the inmates know it's that time of year," he said. "They see the ads on TV, the promotions, the political ads." 

Inmates have expressed their interest in voting. According to Hooper, inmates can cast their votes with the help of a grievance officer. 

However, while there are options for inmates to vote, certain circumstances must be met first. Inmates cannot be convicted felons, which according to the jail's grievance officer Sgt. Valerie Wilson, doesn't leave much of their jail population. In the state of Texas, felons cannot vote until their sentence has been fully discharged, according to Texas State Law Library.

"We have roughly about 1,200 inmates right now and only about 350 are eligible to vote," she said.

Wilson said that so far she has received 20 requests from inmates to vote, which she says is double from what she's seen in previous years.

Hooper said that there are memos around the jail that give information on the process to vote. He adds that there are inmates who are voting for the very first time.

"If they have the will to participate in this election process, that's something we will help them accomplish," he said.

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